Iran’s World Cup coach and players have hit out at the country’s football federation and kit sponsor for providing shrinking socks, boots that are too small and not enough equipment.
The row has worsened tensions between coach Carlos Queiroz and the federation over chaotic preparations for the finals, which start June 12 in Brazil.
The Portugese coach went to a training camp in Africa last month with only 12 players.
With the countdown ticking away to Iran’s first Group F game against Nigeria, Queiroz criticised the German makers of the Iran team strip Uhlsport.
“Before crucial games against Qatar and South Korea, which were played in extreme conditions of humidity, the equipment delivered was not proper,” he told reporters on Sunday, before his team headed to a new World Cup training camp in Austria.
“This could have put Iran out of the World Cup,” he said of the two qualifying games.
Queiroz went on to lambast the federation for failing to provide proper boots or enough clothing.
“If you give shoes sized 34 to somebody that wears size 44 he cannot walk five metres,” said Queiroz, only partly joking about the predicament his players find themselves in.
Iran, playing in the World Cup finals for the fourth time after 1978, 1998 and 2006, face a tough first round group against Argentina, Africa Cup of Nations champions Nigeria and debutants Bosnia.
“If you have one tracksuit per player morning and afternoon it cannot be good,” added Queiroz, former boss of Real Madrid and the Portugese and South African national sides as well as ex-assistant coach at Manchester United.
Several players joined Queiroz in grumbling about the kit.
“They give us large size socks and after two days and being washed they shrink to a small size,” said striker Karim Ansarifard at the press event.
Mohammad Reza Khalatbari, whose former club Sepahan, used Uhlsport equipment of the “best quality”, hinted he believes the Iranian side was being given inferior supplies.
“The gear that we have now, we really don’t know what it is,” said the striker.
“We are really tired of talking about this. I don’t understand why everyone is defending it. When there is something wrong, we should admit that there is a problem.”
Sports Minister Mahmoud Goudarzi downplayed the Iranian team’s equipment problems.
“The minister is not well-informed,” responded Queiroz, whose contract has yet to be renewed.
Iran Football Federation president, Ali Kafashian, also defended the quality of the team kit.
“We expect the coach not to air dirty laundry in public,” he said, describing the row as a distraction that would not help the team.
The distributor of the team kit, Dubai-based Romario Sports, did not comment when contacted by AFP. But the company’s representative in Iran, Mahmoud Piri, denied there was anything wrong with the shirts.
“This is clearly not true,” he said. “An internationally recognised company would not question its own credibility – ahead of the World Cup – by producing poor quality gear.
“Fabric experts would tell you that Polyester-made shirts do not shrink,” he said, adding that Queiroz’s personal dispute with the equipment supplier over money was the cause of the row. This left the Portugese coach visibly upset.
“I gave permission to my lawyer to release all information regarding my personal problem with Romario Sports and these documents prove how these gentlemen behaved with me these last two years,” Queiroz told reporters.
“If I owe them money then I have a problem before God and you,” he said, pointing out that Iran’s June 16 opener against Nigeria is fast approaching.
“For me, everybody who distracts the national team is a Nigerian,” he commented.